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Thread: Why Do YOU TV-DX?

  1. #1
    N1LF Guest

    Default Why Do YOU TV-DX?

    As a child of the Space Age, I literally don't remember life without television. But I do remember having only three channels, all of them were in black and white, and they all signed off around midnight.

    This actually started my life as a TV-DXer. I remember being around age 4 or 5, watching TV with my mom late one night while my dad was on a service call. We were waiting up for him, when the last of the local stations signed off. Mom was annoyed that there was nothing on...and asked me to switch the set off.

    Instead, I ran thru the channels on more time, detecting a faint signal on channel 10. I adjusted the "fine tuning" control, and suddenly we were watching Channel 10 out of Knoxville, some 75 miles away. I went outside and applied the Armstrong rotor to the antenna, and it got very clear. I remember how happy my mom seemed, and being proud.

    The next summer, I also discovered E-Skip on channel 2, and I remember my dad claiming that I had "broken" the set!

    For me, TV-DXing is still the thrill of seeing a program (especially local programs) that cannot be seen in my area. In some ways, the more strange, or offbeat the signal, the better. Endless test patterns, old public domain movies, "camera cards", it's all great stuff for me.

    Best of all are locally produced programs, on the few remaining "independent stations". Horror hosts, kid vid, all that stuff is an intoxicating mixture of fond nostalgia, and the thrill of receiving a distant signal.

    I'm a filmmaker, and started off making television commercials. What a thrill it was to be able to contribute my own voice to the airwaves. I've often said that if I ever tire of seeing my own stuff on the tube, I'll know it's time to find another line of work.

    For years, I've toyed with the idea of seeking out vintage, locally produced television shows from around the country, and featuring a new gem on a weekly documentary series called "Rabbit Ears: TV Before Cable". Sadly, very little of that material remains, but I continue to toy with the idea--and have pitched it to more than one network from time to time. Who knows...maybe someday.

    In Europe, many TV-DXers collect vintage "test patterns" or ID slides from stations. I prowl e-bay and other sites looking for these too. In brings back all those memories of being up early, and watching the stations spring to life...first the static...and then the test pattern, finally the National Anthem, perhaps a devotional message, and then the "Farm Report"...followed finally, finally by Saturday morning cartoons. It was an amazing way to grow up.

    I hope that I don't live long enough to see the death of over the air television. There was, and still is something magical about being able to rotate that antenna and finding some new station to watch. Cable and satellite will never quite replace that, at least for me.

    I'm curious about why others enjoy TV-DXing. So, why do you DX? Do you have other TV related interests, such as collecting test patterns, station items, or perhaps DVD's of vintage programming?

    73,

    Les Rayburn, N1LF

  2. #2
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    As for me, when I was small, I collected outta-town TV Guides serving other areas, when we would go on vacation.

    Often it was nice to see what was on TV in other cities.

    When I learned in the 60s that TV signals from far away can come in, it was very interesting to me....but in those days, the picture would "roll" like crazy, and we didn't have VCRs & stuff.

    Miami's ch 2, back in those days, only ran about 5 hours a day in summers, when no school. One of my first eye-opening catches was what turned out to be WKAQ 2 in PR, with a Spanish-dubbed "I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Wiener" animated ad. Funny stuff to watch as a kid.

    Also I was a fan of the 1960s NBC "Match Game." Local ch 7 ran it on a 1-week delay so they could show it at 1pm, when in pattern it was 4pm. I had seen it in pattern on ch 2, likely KPRC Houston.

    Nowadays, with syndication the way it is, major TV stations pretty much show the same thing all over the USA, and frankly IMO it's not that interesting anymore.

    However, because of my FL location, I have access to other countries, and it's always interesting to see what other cultures are viewing. Never a dull moment....now with Web and some stations streaming video, or at least with schedules to view online, (not to mention logo bugs in the corner.) I can ID the station.....well Mexico is another story....

    cd

  3. #3
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    We also had an armstrong rotator. And so did my grandfather, and my neighbors across the street. Ahhh...and the pleasures of the horizonal hold not holding. We also had 3 channels to choose from. And UHF was basically unheard of. It required one of those "special" antennas. My kids are both in college now, but they have no idea what it was like to actuall have to get out of the chair to turn the channel...or raise the volume. But we were very happy to have those 3 channels(I guess a case of "what you dont have you dont miss".) And back then, never in a million years would anyone have believed one day you would have to actually PAY to watch TV! My Dad wasnt a rich man, but every now and then, we had conveniences...like TV. It was a struggle to fine tune that old analog picture back then. And here I am some 45 years later, I still find myself struggling to bring in that analog picture. What goes around, comes around.
    Last edited by mp11; 06-24-2010 at 06:44 PM.
    mike
    TVDXing since 7/27/09

  4. #4
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    "Why Do You TV-DX?"...I'll get to that question, later.

    I love this TV nostalgia stuff. Brings back a lot of fond memories for me, too.

    Waaay back in the late 50's we were living about halfway between Philly and NYC. (Morrisville, PA) It was TV heaven is those pre-cable / pre-satellite years. All of the VHF channels were full except for channel 8. (I'll get to that one, shortly) It was a cornucopia of entertainment, especially for kids. There may have been UHF TV at that time (I don't really know for sure) but we didn't have it. Our TV was a giant box (don't remember the model) about the size of the kitchen stove (it seemed that way to me) with a picture tube about the size of my current 9in B&W monitor. The antenna was a stacked pair of, 2 element VHF's, turned by an Alliance U-100 rotator. I'll bet there were 10 million of those antenna set-ups in the Philly - NYC corridor.

    One Summer morning I got to tuning around and "discovered" a new channel. WOOHOO! More TV! It was channel 8 in New Haven, CT. A DXer was born. It may have been WHNC at that time but I know it later became WTNH. I later found ANOTHER channel 8 (this is great stuff for a little kid) which turned out to be WGAL Lancaster, PA. And so began my lifelong hobby of TV DXing. I just barely remember seeing Cuba on, I think, channel 5 at some time during this period.

    My Dad bought a new GE 19in B&W portable (I only call it a portable because it has a handle on it...it would stretch your arm if you carried it very far!) in the early 60's and I still have that TV.

    We moved to N.J. in 1964, only about 10 miles from the Morrisville QTH so the TV "landscape" didn't change any, until.... One fateful day (I think it was early Fall of '65) my Dad brought home another TV. This one had something on it called UHF. It was like Christmas, Easter and the 4th of July all happening in one day....there was EVEN MORE TV!!! A UHF DXer was born. We later installed a VHF-UHF combo antenna on a U-100 rotator and I was off to the races with VHF AND UHF Dxing....and I've been at it ever since.

    In May of 2008 a friend brought over a DTV box (Insignia) and said: "Try this thing on your antennas and see what you can get. I can't see squat, with it, in town." A week later I had 58 DTVs in the log. A DTV DXer was born.

    Now, to answer the question: "Why Do You TV-DX?" ....That question kinda reminds me of another, age old, question: "Why does the dog eat grass?" The best answer, I've ever heard, was: "Because he likes to." :-)

    73, Ed NN2E
    Owner / Operator - Murphy's Law Test Site & Thunderstorm Proving Grounds
    Last edited by NN2E; 06-24-2010 at 06:05 PM.
    "You Might Be a Redneck If...
    Your TV is on 24/7.
    Your TV has been permanently on for over a decade.
    The only time your TV is off is during a power outage.
    Your TV gets 512 channels, but you go outside to use the bathroom.
    Your new TV is sitting on top of your old TV.
    Your TV costs more than all of your other furniture.
    Your deer-stand has a TV antenna on it.
    Your cable provider has no idea that you exist."
    Jeff Foxworthy

  5. #5
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    I first discovered TV DX on cable (yes, cable) when I was a kid in southwestern Connecticut in the 80s. Our cable system picked up the local channels over the air from a big tower on a hilltop, about a mile from my house. Any time there was E-skip, channels 2, 4 and 5 from NYC would be practically unwatchable. Tropo usually brought in stations from eastern North Carolina and the Hampton Roads, VA area ghosting over the locals on 2, 7, 9 and 13.

    The first time I ever IDed a DX station via cable was WESH channel 2 from Daytona Beach, Florida, over WCBS in the summer of '89. The cable company had put a scroll on channel 2 saying something to the effect of "we apologize for the poor reception on this channel; it is due to atmospheric conditions beyond our control."

    Comcast in Danbury, CT still picked up the NYC and Hartford stations OTA as long as I lived there (until 2000, when I moved to Virginia). Not sure if they still do, though with DTV and no low-VHFs in the area the OTA reception on cable is probably better than it used to be.

    We were always a cable household...parents didn't want any antennas on the roof for aesthetic purposes, so I have never done any TV DXing except for what Comcast pulled in back in the day.

    The channel 2 DX on cable was how I discovered Es on FM in the mid-90s. I kept my bedroom TV on channel 2 every summer, then monitored the most open frequencies on FM at my location (92.9, 94.1 and 94.5).

  6. #6
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    As to the above 2 posts:

    I recall how some cable systems would use regular antennas to pull in their line-up. WUFT 5 Gainesville FL, on the Belleview FL cable system (Belleview was my parents' town and I visited often), would go off the air, and one night some cool tropo came in, without having to touch an antenna....WCSC 5 in SC was there & possibly WPTV 5 FL as well.

    As to "More TV!", I recall, we once had a TV Guide knockoff magazine called "All Florida" in the mid 60s. We'd read listings from all over the state. There were channels 8 & 13 in Tampa.....One morning in 1965 (yess I recall the year, don't ask why), both 8 & 13 came in with a monster signal at our house near Miami. I was thinking (maybe my brother was, too, as he watched with me), that they must have raised power!

    I suppose that was my first real taste of TV DX.

    cd

  7. #7
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    Unfortunately most larger cable companies have gone with fiberoptics to bring in the locals.

    But my cable company still brings in the Canadian stations over the air. We get CJOH-6 and CKWS-11 on cable in the Watertown, NY area from Kingston, ON. Ghosting is easily noticeable on both channels, especially on CJOH. Ive watched interference during ES season on CJOH-6 but nothing ever came through, although the picture did get pretty hard to watch at times. CKWS never seems to have any issues since its on upper VHF, and comes in really strong in Watertown.

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